What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety & Addiction?
As the name suggests, dual-diagnosis treatment is a type of treatment that
caters to people who struggle with multiple mental or behavioral disorders
at the same time. In general, rehab centers use this form of treatment
to help patients with addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders.
Addiction with the co-occurrence of anxiety disorders is relatively common,
and dual-diagnosis treatment is often needed to fully address both conditions.
Without treating the underlying issues (anxiety), most people suffering
from substance use disorders will struggle to achieve long-term sobriety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. When people are
in stressful situations, it’s normal for them to experience stress.
However, it’s possible for their bodies to overreact. When this
happens consistently, they may have an anxiety disorder.
While anxiety disorders can occur in both men and women, the American Psychiatric
Association reports that women are more likely to have this condition.
This fact shouldn’t keep men from seeking treatment for anxiety
disorders, though. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues,
it’s crucial for everyone to seek treatment.
Generalized anxiety disorder, which involves avoiding activities or events
that are outside of one’s normal routine, is the most common type
of anxiety disorder.
How to Tell the Difference Between Normal Anxiety & an Anxiety Attack
Normal anxiety causes certain symptoms that are generally mild. These may
include difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate, and restlessness. It’s
not uncommon for anxiety to make people feel uncomfortable or a bit fearful.
An anxiety attack, which is common in people who struggle with anxiety
disorders, has more extreme symptoms. Some of these include:
- Chills and hot flashes
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Numbness or tingling
- Shortness of breath
- Uncontrollable worry
Oftentimes, these symptoms become so unbearable that people turn to substances,
such as alcohol, for relief. That’s why alcohol and anxiety have
such a close connection.
Keep in mind that everyone reacts to stress differently. Just because one
individual can handle a lot of stress doesn’t mean that someone
else can. No one should base what their normal anxiety level should be
on others. Instead, people should create their own baselines and determine
what is and isn’t normal for them.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
A few of the most common anxiety disorders, or disorders for which anxiety
is a key component, include:
The underlying cause of anxiety differs depending on the individual. In
someone who struggles with OCD, for example, the anxiety comes from the
person’s uncontrollable thoughts and obsessions. In someone with
PTSD, the anxiety comes from events that bring up trauma from the past.
People who think that they struggle with anxiety disorders should seek
professional treatment. They should never attempt to deal with these types
of problems alone. When they do, the result is often self-medication,
which can lead to substance abuse and addiction.
The Connection Between Anxiety & Addiction
There is a significant connection between anxiety and addiction. One reason
for this is that people who struggle with anxiety disorders often consume
alcohol and/or use drugs to get relief.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in people with anxiety disorders.
In fact, alcohol and anxiety frequently have a codependent relationship.
That’s why it’s vital for people with anxiety who also abuse
alcohol to seek dual-diagnosis treatment. Otherwise, the untreated disorder
(whether it’s the anxiety disorder or the substance use disorder)
can easily trigger the treated disorder, leading to
For instance, let’s say that a person who struggles with alcohol
and anxiety goes into rehab to get treatment for addiction. After the
individual is clean and back in the real world, the anxiety starts to
flare up again, triggering that person’s desire to drink. This person
is likely to relapse and return to using alcohol because the anxiety issue
wasn’t addressed during treatment.
In order to fully overcome co-occurring disorders, such as alcohol abuse
and anxiety, people must receive dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual-diagnosis
treatment programs simultaneously treat substance abuse problems and their
underlying mental health issues.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
It’s common for people to experience anxiety in some manner over
the course of their lives. However, experts haven’t determined the
exact reason that anxiety affects some individuals more than others. That
being said, certain factors may put some people at a higher risk of developing
For example, a person who has a family history of anxiety problems is more
likely to experience an anxiety disorder. It’s the same with addiction.
Studies show that addiction can run in families, which is yet another
connection between anxiety and addiction.
On another note, anxiety can be the direct result of drug use. Oftentimes,
people assume that anxiety leads them down the path of using drugs. However,
some drugs can actually cause anxiety. In fact, anxiety is a common side
effect of many
It’s important to note that people can also experience anxiety due
to chronic stress, such as work burnout. Such individuals must learn how
to effectively manage their stress to avoid high levels of anxiety. Thankfully,
many types of therapy, either in rehab or on its own, can teach individuals
how to effectively manage stress.
Treatments for Anxiety Addiction
When entering rehab to get help with anxiety and addiction, it’s
essential to choose rehab centers that offer dual-diagnosis treatment,
such as Grace Land Recovery. Treating one disorder but not the other often
leads to relapse.
While receiving dual-diagnosis treatment for anxiety and addiction, individuals
should also take advantage of other forms of addiction therapy.
Some addiction treatments and therapies that individuals can incorporate
into their dual-diagnosis treatment include:
Family Therapy: Alcohol and anxiety problems frequently stem from problems in the home.
As a result,
family therapy is a great form of therapy to incorporate into your dual-diagnosis treatment
program. Family therapy can get to the root cause of many problems. Also,
family therapy helps relatives better understand the struggle that their
loved ones are going through. It’s common for family and close friends
to not understand the struggles of suffering from an anxiety disorder,
let alone a co-occurring substance use disorder or addiction. Oftentimes,
people just think that poor lifestyle choices are the cause of substance
use and mental health disorders and nothing more. In reality, though,
substance use and mental health disorders are much more complicated.
Group and Individual Therapies: Individual and
group therapies play a crucial role in nearly every rehab treatment plan. Group therapy
helps individuals see that they aren’t the only ones who struggle
with substance use and mental illness. Being able to share with others
gives addiction and mental health treatment patients a new outlook on
their problems. Individual therapy gives such individuals the one-on-one
time that they need with a therapist to feel comfortable about sharing
Personalized Treatment: Anxiety and addiction can affect people in different ways. However, some
rehab centers offer a one size-fits-all approach to treatment. While it
works for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. Because of
that, people who struggle with co-occurring disorders should find rehab
centers that create dual-diagnosis treatment plans that are according
to their specific needs. Not everyone requires the same level of care.
For example, some people need significant help during the beginning of
rehab. This is when a
partial hospitalization program is beneficial. Later on, a person can move on to
intensive outpatient or
standard outpatient rehab depending on their needs.
Anger Management: Anger is one of the leading causes of stress in people’s lives. As
a result, individuals must learn how to control their anger in order to
keep their stress and anxiety to a minimum.
Anger management teaches individuals how to control anger. In some cases, it can keep them
from reaching an elevated level of anger altogether.